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Black Heritage

Deep in the heart of Texas, you’ll discover the rich history and thriving, diverse community of San Antonio. From historic landmarks, such as Ellis Alley and the Healy-Murphy Center, to the educational and creative hub, the Carver Community Cultural Center, the city offers a strong foundation for Black American culture. It’s also home to San Antonio’s Soul Food Festival, as well as the inspirational MLK March (one of the largest in the nation) and the vibrant Juneteenth celebration. Black American history runs deep in San Antonio and is part of the city’s diverse cultural fusion.
 

 

Events

January

MLK March:
One of the largest Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marches in the nation, this annual event honoring the late civil rights leader is a tremendous source of pride in San Antonio. People of all ages and ethnicities gladly join together in support of carrying on the legacy of Dr. King and his dream of equality.

April

Taste of New Orleans:
This three-day festival at the Sunken Garden Theater is where you’ll find some of the best flavors and sounds of New Orleans. The whole family can enjoy Cajun and Creole dishes followed by a little dancin’ to the rhythmic Dixieland and jazz music of the Big Easy.

May

Soul Food Festival:
An annual occasion since 1999, this tasty event serves up delicious ethnic food from San Antonio’s best soul food vendors. Although the food is one of the main attractions, the festival also offers live entertainment as well as arts and crafts in recognition and celebration of the city’s Black American community.

June

Juneteenth:
The annual Juneteenth Festival is a vibrant celebration of Black American heritage, music and culture. It commemorates the anniversary of when more than 200,000 Texas slaves learned of the Emancipation Proclamation. This energetic festival includes an abundance of live music, food and fun.

August

LaborFest:
This thrilling weekend festival is all about good times and great music. Founded by the CEO of BTL Entertainment, this event hosts some of the best artists that blues, jazz and R&B have to offer. It’s also known for its delicious selection of food and exciting activities for the whole family.


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History of Heritage and Landmarks:

East side cemeteries:
One of the most unique features of San Antonio’s east side is its collection of 31 elaborate cemeteries. With the first cemetery established in 1853, some of the plots are the final resting places of San Antonio’s most celebrated residents, including over 300 Buffalo Soldiers from the Indian Wars of the late 19th century. You can walk among ornate sculptures and statuary, mausoleums and obelisks and take in nearly 200 fascinating years of San Antonio’s history.

Ellis Alley:
Known as the epicenter from which the east side of San Antonio evolved, Ellis Alley was one of the city’s first Black American settlements. Following the American Civil War, land in Ellis Alley was purchased by former slaves, such as Isabella Scott, whose great granddaughter remains a proud resident of the area.

The Carver Community Center:
For over 75 years, the Carver Center has been the heart of local Black American culture. Showcasing artistic works, community activities and educational programs, the center prides itself on providing quality performances and developing talent and creativity in San Antonio.

St. Paul Methodist Church:
Closing in on nearly 150 years of worship services, the historic St. Paul Methodist Church is the oldest primarily Black American congregation in San Antonio.


Historic Districts
Healy-Murphy:
Dating back to 1888, this historical district was named for the good deeds and heroic spirit of Margaret Mary Healy-Murphy. After the death of her husband, she relocated to San Antonio from Corpus Christi and opened the St. Peter Claver School and Church for Black Americans on the city’s east side. In 1970 it was renamed the Healy-Murphy Center, and through the years, it has upheld its reputation for academic success and commitment to the Black American youth of San Antonio.

St. Paul Square:
Named after the Old St. Paul Methodist Episcopal Church, the square became a renowned hub of transportation and commercial activity due to the arrival of the railroad in 1877. It has most recently experienced a revival as an entertainment district, and some of the original buildings and structures have been restored as theater venues and restaurants.

Lavaca:
The residential sector known as Lavaca is one of the oldest and most unique regions of San Antonio. Maintaining its residential status since 1852, it displays a variety of housing styles from adobe to turn-of-the-century-style structures and bungalows. Historically, these homes were occupied by people of mostly Germanic heritage, as well as those of Black American, Polish, and Spanish descent. It was also home to one of San Antonio’s earliest Black American communities, the Baptist Settlement.